Last night when tucking time rolled around, I was ready to count some serious Z’s.

My kids were tired too, so I was fully expecting the usual auto-pilot prayer time: “God, thank you for my day. Thank you for our family, and supper. And video games. Amen.” Much of the time their prayers are so rote-based that we wouldn’t actually have to pray, we could just press play on an .mp3 version, a pre-recorded monotonous mumble we could all nod our sleepy heads to. “Yeah, that. Amen.” And drift off to sleep.

So imagine my surprise when, after their cherubic nephew’s first birthday party earlier, Noah begins our prayer time with something like, “God, thank you for David and his first birthday. I pray that you will draw his heart to yours every day of his life and that one day he will come to realize that you are Lord.” And then Glory continues, not copying, with something like, “And Lord, please help him to grow up to love and trust you and grow up to serve you.” And then Joel, our eight year old, caps it off with something like, “Help him to accept you every single day in small ways, so that when he grows up, he’ll really know you.”

Awakened to Christ’s presence, my usual prayer changed too: “Wow, Jesus, thank you for settling on my children right now and breathing your heart for David into them. Thank you for giving them the words to pray.”

It was so gentle, so beautiful. In some way invisible to my natural eyes and groggy soul, our Lord Jesus had crept into our little gathering and illuminated my children’s hearts with insight and passion far beyond their normal routines. I’m not sure they even knew it. But I did. And Jesus illuminated my heart too. Through them.

Those little gifts are more than rays of eternal sunshine, they are joy come home.